"Soundings" (Blog)

  • "For in war, the fate of the nation may be staked upon the outcome of a single battle, and in turn victory or defeat in battle hinges largely on the character and ability of a single individual, the Commander in Chief. This is necessary because only by concentrating the power of decision can unified action be assured, and without unified action victory is impossible. It is so also because moves in battle cannot be debated around the conference table and decided by majority rule; they must be decided swiftly by the commander on the basis of his own judgment and with full realization that each move, once made is irrevocable. To make such decisions requires extraordinary courage and self-confidence." - "Midway, The Battle That Doomed Japan, The Japanese Navy's Story" by Mitsuo Fuchida and Masatake Okumiya published originally in 1955 by the Naval Institute Press.

  • "I wonder whether you seek adventure when you're young because you're still trying to make a plot out of your life, to shape it into a story, and then you reach an age when life begins to tell the story for you." - Eric Puchner writing in March/April "Afar" Magazine

  • Quote

    I was listening to a radio program the other day. One of the hosts would not believe that the caller had a certain obscure medical condition. Admittedly, it was hard to fathom, and it didn’t fit into any of the predefined categories that our brains use to structure information. But I had just read an article in Sky & Telescope and thought: we assume science is a permanent fact. However, our knowledge of the human body and how to treat it is not static, it is evolving. For example, the new frontier in treating cancer is immuno-oncology. Twenty years ago, treating cancer by stimulating the body's own immune system would also have been hard to fathom. In astronomy there are new discoveries every year. Moreover, there are brilliant people who spend their lives trying to solve some of the mysteries of astrophysics. So we live with evolving science, and must be open-minded as Copernicus showed us in the early 1500s.

    Here is the quote from an article in Sky & Telescope about black holes:

    "We're terribly human people, and the psychology kind of took over," says John Kormendy (University of Texas at Austin)....  "Scientists get very sure of the things that they think they're very sure of.  And sometimes they've been wrong--and when they are, it's a hell of a job to change the folklore."

  • Hubble

    Astronomy is one of my hobbies; I joined the Amateur Astronomers Association of Princeton earlier this year. I have been reading slowly "Hubble's Universe: Greatest Discoveries and Latest Images," which turns out is a lot about photography. For example, many of the images include light from outside the visual spectrum and therefore some assumptions must be made to convert these light waves to a color so that our eyes may see them. Anyway, I decided to pop over to the Hubble page on NASA.gov--the images are mind-blowing: NASA-Hubble

  • "Traveling is the most powerful self-development tool available to humanity. The more you travel the more you learn through the diversity of other places and people, the more you understand how the world and mankind are the most beautiful treasures available to all of us.” - Manfredi de Clunieres di Balsorano, Chairman of Silversea Cruises

  • Upcoming Travel and Fall Colors

    I'm looking forward to visiting Great Smoky Mountains National Park in mid-October to shoot the fall colors this year. I have been doing research for the last few days and cannot wait to get there.  I am also headed to Annapolis for a couple sailing events in October.  In addition, I will be at NeoCon East in Philadelphia and the Healthcare Design Conference in Houston in November.

  • 9/11

    It has been 15 years since 9/11. When a tragedy of that magnitude occurs, we find that we have no real words. Instead, we find our voice in music, art and often photography. On this profound day, may I suggest the images in this article on Huffington Post:  Huffington Post.  To this day, I cannot look at the photo of the firefighters raising our flag without a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes.

    Now recently there has been debate about individuals who do not stand for our National Anthem. I have no problem with it; after all, freedom of speech is guaranteed by the constitution. In my opinion, calling out a problem with non-violent speech does not hurt our country. However, I will stand for our National Anthem so long as I am able. I will stand because other people no longer can. I will stand for those who battled and tried until they had nothing left. I will stand for women and men who run to help strangers, who stand in harm’s way in our defense, and for those who gave the ultimate sacrifice so that we may live free.

  • "...the most important effect of travel is that it does in fact change a person's life and their perspective on the world. Often this comes at a very crucial time in an individual's personal development..." - --from "Safari" by Geoffrey Kent, founder of Abercrombie & Kent

  • The Traveler's Paradox

    I enjoy talking with people that travel a lot, whether they be sailors, scuba divers, photographers, or everyday people. When they tell their stories and chat about their adventures, their faces light up. Ask them where they are off to next, and you see a surge of energy. One of my sayings is: “If you travel, you know.” People who travel a lot understand immediately what that means.

    I am not a perfectionist. Instead, I see life as a series of trade-offs: some good, some bad with most of our decisions. Travelers also face trade-offs, and I call this “The Traveler’s Paradox.” Travelers are always on the move—off from this place to the next, excited about the prospects of the upcoming trip. When they arrive at their destinations, they see the locals or ex-pats meandering down cobbled lanes or dirt streets, loitering over long meals, chatting with friends on park benches in the middle of the day, patiently tying their fishing nets. The traveler is often envious, sensing the peace and quiescence of their lives. But the traveler’s life is different: the clock is always ticking. Whether their trip is measured in days, weeks or even years, there is a subliminal urgency to prolong the time, to maximize the experience. For photographers, the sense of urgency isn’t subliminal at all: our days are governed by the clock and the light. So simply put, “The Traveler’s Paradox” is this: the traveler is always going, but the resident is already there. We are always moving, planning, going. But the resident is already where he or she needs to be. Thus, their days are longer, their pace slower, their lives seem more peaceful. Travelers imagine what it must be like to live there, to walk home with baguette in hand, to loiter over meals, to sit on the park bench. And yet, we know we cannot be that; we have the traveler’s soul. When we start to settle down in our own homes, something stirs deep inside us. Before long, we are back planning the next trip; what will be the next adventure? We have to go over the horizon: there are places to see, and experiences to be had. And the cycle starts again. All the while, the residents that we envy are strolling down cobbled streets, playing dominoes in the park, and sipping espresso in cafés. We are going, they are already there.

  • Great Article

    Great article from my favorite magazine, The Economist, on consciousness and the intellect of animals:
    "Off Laguna, in southern Brazil, people and bottlenose dolphins have fished together for generations. The dolphins swim towards the beach, driving mullet towards the fishermen. The men wait for a signal from the dolphins—a distinctive dive—before throwing their nets. The dolphins are in charge, initiating the herding and giving the vital signal, though only some do this. The people must learn which dolphins will herd the fish and pay close attention to the signal, or the fishing will fail."
    For the full article read it here:  Economist Article
  • Lap Shots

    I taught a photographic seminar last night—“Take Control of Your Frame”—at the Sanibel Fly Fishers Club and received an interesting question after the event. One of the members sought to take better photos of the fish she catches on her kayak. She asked, “How do I take better photos of fish on my lap?” It is my experience that fly fishermen/fly fisherwomen return the overwhelming majority of fish they catch, so she only has the fish for a very short period of time. It is an interesting question. Looking at the photos, her lens is sufficiently wide, so she is getting the whole fish and some of her environment. She does not have a remote for her and the timer takes too long to set up and requires a third hand while juggling the fish, the line, and her kayak. In the end, I suggested she try the fish eye function on her point-and-shoot to get creative. Afterwards, I was thinking about abstract shots of the fish patterns, or photographing just part of the fish, instead of the whole body (although the whole fish on her lap conveys the size of the catch, which is important). I wonder if anyone else has a good suggestion….? If so, please email me.

  • Frank Hurley

    I found a copy of "LIFE: The Greatest Adventures of All Time" book at my in-laws home and wanted to share this excerpt on Frank Hurley: "For all the journals and narratives left in the wake of Shackleton's adventures, it is perhaps the work of Frank Hurley…that most vividly tells the story of the Endurance [Antarctica, 1915]. Hurley…was, according to the ship’s chief officer, Lionel Greenstreet, “a warrior with his camera [who] would go anywhere or do anything to get a picture.” As the Endurance went down, Hurley recorded the tragedy…When Shackleton ordered his men to jettison all but vital supplies, Hurley was forced to abandon his gear, saving only a pocket camera. Of more than 500 glass-plate negatives, he was able to preserve only 120. The images from them still haunt….”

    To see his images, visit: FRANK HURLEY

    For a timeline of events, visit: PBS_TIMELINE

  • Playlist Needed

    Please share your 1 favorite workout song on my TousJour Photography Facebook page. And I will make another donation to Fisher House (http://www.fisherhouse.org/).
    I need a new running/workout playlist to start 2016. Share the name of your favorite workout song (just 1 please) and I will make a donation for each person who contributes to Fisher House Foundation—a charity that my family and in-laws support that provides free temporary housing to families of injured service members and veterans who are receiving medical care. And please steal some of the suggestions from the thread and create your own playlist for your fitness goals in 2016.
    I will start--Nirvana: Smells Like Teen Spirit.
    Here's the Facebook Page: TousJour Photography Facebook Page
  • Terrorism against the French and the Civilized World

    A brief look at history reveals how conflict evolves. For example, WW I was fought mostly in trenches in rural areas, whereas only two decades later WW II featured aerial bombardments of major cities. Today we face perhaps the most perplexing challenge to the human race: how to defeat hatred. Our enemies have no state, they live among us, and have no respect for human life. They are elusive: they disguise themselves as members of our societies, of our civilized world. Yet they are subhuman and only know hate, subversion, and malice. This enemy is one that REQUIRES us to evolve our thinking, our planning, and our actions. Our defenses must evolve lest they be rendered as useless as WW I trenches against aerial bombs. We will take this challenge head on--as our parents and grandparents and great grandparents did--and we will win. Our societies must mobilize with the BREADTH and SUPPORT of all its people, just as they did during the World Wars. As we regroup, I share General MacArthur's quote to Major General Wainwright who he left in command in the Philippines:
    "I'll come back as soon as I can with as much as I can. In the meantime, you've got to hold."
  • Veterans Day

    Last year, I shared some photos of the Korean War Memorial in honor of my father and all who served in that era. This year, I am sharing photos of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in honor of my father-in-law and my Godfather and all who served during that period. To them and to all who served--and to the families who sacrificed back home--thank you.

  • Click Like, Support Fisher House!

    This year I will again make a donation to Fisher House for each new "like" I have on my TousJour Photography Facebook page between now and Veterans Day (I am currently at 656 likes).

    Here is a link to my Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/TousJour/

    After you click Like, you can spread the word by sharing my post, which can only help!  I also encourage you to consider supporting Fisher House (https://www.fisherhouse.org/), a non-profit that has provided a variety of support services--most notably, free housing for families of injured servicemen/women--for 25 years. You can not only donate money but airline miles: they have provided more than 50,000 free airline tickets to military/veteran families thanks to donations.

  • Teaching a Class at Princeton Photo Workshop

    At its core, photography is about sharing. What would be the value of taking a great photograph and not sharing it with someone? The sharing is the fun part! Similarly, the techniques that are used to make great images are also meant to be shared. And so I am pleased to announce that I will be teaching a class for Princeton Photo Workshop this autumn. The class, “Making the Most of Available Light” will be held October 18 at a beautiful horse farm in Hopewell, NJ. It is designed to help amateur photographers make great images regardless of the weather or light conditions. If you would like more information or to join the class, please visit:  PRINCETON PHOTO CLASS.